Tucsonan lands role in new TV show ‘Reservation Dogs’

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 9:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson native has made it to Hollywood, but his goal is a bit different than most.

He stars in ‘Reservation Dogs,’ a comedy about indigenous teens in Oklahoma finding their way through life.

Jon Proudstar was born and raised in Tucson and is part of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, a community that traditionally does not get much, if any airtime in movies and television. But Proudstar received a call that will change that, and he hopes this will become the norm.

‘Reservation Dogs’ is receiving rave reviews. And one of Tucson’s very own is gracing the screen as he stars as Leon, the father of one of the main characters named Willie Jack.

“I thought it was really neat when I read the script because Willie Jack is the only one that has a mom and a dad and she comes from a fairly normal life. They have a middle class house, and a car and a truck, so it wasn’t all that ‘rez’ doom and gloom kind of stuff,” says Proudstar.

But getting to where he is was not simple.

Proudstar says he was cast in the pilot, and two days before he was supposed to fly out, he tested positive for COVID-19, an earth-shattering situation for the actor. At that time, he was replaced with another actor.

“Sterlin Harjo the director and the executive producer Taika Waititi...they both promised me ‘hey if we get picked up, we’re going to get you on the show.’ So I was just waiting and waiting and finally you get that phone call and I was like ‘oh thank god, they kept their word. I’m just some dude in Tucson and they kept their word.”

The nearly all Native American cast marks a new age for the TV community, proving representation really does matter.

KOLD asked Proudstar about the accuracy of portrayals in the show.

“It’s spot-on because it portrays us as just people for the first time. I know that’s kind of sad hearing that. But it’s just that we’re just normal people with normal struggles. What this show does is it lets people know...they’re here and they’re just as weird as you.”

Proudstar says his biggest hope moving forward is that indigenous actors are cast not based on race, but their abilities to play the part...something Proudstar has proven he does very well.

“We’re just asking for the same opportunity that everyone else is getting,” says Proudstar.

He says unfortunately there aren’t any references to Southern Arizona, as they are playing a tribe from Oklahoma, but the comedy is well worth checking out.

You can watch it on Hulu in the states, and Disney+ outside the states.

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